Middle School Curriculum

Zug Campus Handbook 2019-20

This handbook provides you with information that will help you become acquainted with the aims and objectives of the school, a brief overview of the curriculum as well as practical day-to-day information.

Middle School Curriculum and Academic Programme

Our Middle School programme offers students an international framework of academic challenge and life skills appropriate to this stage of adolescence. The subject-based programme is an excellent preparation for high school and life-long learning. In addition to a full range of subjects, all students take part in a one-week field trip called Personal Development Week (PDW), a major stage production and a wide range of other activities. The compulsory academic curriculum for all students in Grades 6, 7 and 8 includes Mathematics, Science, Individuals and Societies, Language and Literature (English), Language Acquisition (German, French or Spanish, Arts (Visual Art, Drama and Music, which includes instrumental lessons), Design, and Physical and Health Education. Student council, sport teams, choir, service projects and our outreach initiatives in Bulgaria and Nepal are just some of the opportunities for students to become involved, develop leadership skills and make a difference.

Language Choice

In Middle School, we offer three languages:

  • German Language and Literature (first language)
  • German (as a foreign language)
  • French (as a foreign language)
  • Spanish (as a foreign language)

German is mandatory for all Middle School students and students select between French and Spanish as an additional language.

Although we do not offer Language A classes (i.e. first language) in French or Spanish, our Language B Advanced Programmes have been developed wherever possible to accommodate first language students.

We do our best to offer the French or Spanish choice at the level required, however due to timetabling constraints, or the level of demand, we may only be able to offer the alternative language at the appropriate level.

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

Students at the Zug Campus Middle School are automatically enrolled into the Middle Years Programme (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB), a multi-year programme that provides students with a broad, well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child and is consistent with our school’s Mission Statement.

The educational philosophy of the IB stresses the development of the whole person. The programme is intellectually rigorous and encourages students to become reflective and critical thinkers. International-mindedness and holistic learning are an essential part of the MYP, whilst responsible citizenship is promoted by practical community service.

Through inquiry, action and reflection students explore a range of concepts in each of their individual subject disciplines. Conceptual understanding is a key element of the MYP, which enables students to develop a deeper understanding of each of their subjects, transfer their knowledge across the curriculum and engage in interdisciplinary projects. Courses in the MYP are additionally connected by six global contexts – identities and relationships, fairness and development, personal and cultural expression, scientific and technical innovation, globalization and sustainability and orientation in time and space. These global contexts enable students to relate their learning to their own lives, environments and the world that they know. Across the curriculum, students need to develop learning skills and through approaches to learning students develop the skills in communication, research, thinking, collaboration and self-management that they will need during their school careers and future lives.

English Language and Literature

Literature is at the centre of the English classroom in the Middle School with writing, vocabulary study, group and individual projects deriving from the works read. Throughout the three grade levels students are exposed to a variety of genres of literature and writing styles. Students are encouraged to expand their critical understanding and appreciation of literature and writing. There is an emphasis on comprehension, text analysis and extending the students’ understanding of literature and its place in our world and the students’ lives. The essay format is examined in depth throughout Middle School. Where possible and appropriate cross-curricular connections are made. A strong emphasis on the use of technology and presenting skills is offered in all three grades.

Grade 6 Language and Literature

English in Grade 6 is designed to develop reading, writing, speaking and listening skills through a literature-based programme. Novels, literature circles and poetry are chosen to illustrate a variety of themes throughout the year. Connections are made between authors and their writing styles, between literature and its reflection of historical and contemporary issues and between literature and the concerns of adolescents. Emphasis is placed on reading skills (comprehension, text analysis, and extending understanding), developing vocabulary and responding to literature through oral and written work. Analysing, organising, producing text and using language are taught through the writing process of a variety of modes of writing. Formal teaching of the essay process begins.

Current Readings: Crispin by Avi; Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper; The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis; Selected Literature Circles and Poetry.

Grade 7 Language and Literature

English in Grade 7 is designed to build and reinforce reading, writing and oral skills. The students study a variety of forms of literature, which help to develop critical, and creative response skills, as well as the study of the author’s craft. Analysing, organising, producing text and using language are taught throughout the course and students are offered choices as to how they present their understanding. The study of literature involves novels, short stories, the analysis of visual material and poetry. The exploration of non-fiction works will also be examined. Students will be encouraged to make connections to themselves, the world around them today, as well as back through time. The course aims to foster an enjoyment of reading and writing. As in Grade 6, the formal teaching of the essay process continues and integrating technology into lessons is integral.

Current Readings: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne; The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton or a novel of own choice; Animal Farm by George Orwell; Selected Short Stories, Literature Circles and Poetry.

Grade 8 Language and Literature

English in Grade 8 is designed to consolidate the reading and writing skills learned in Grades 6 and 7. An in-depth study of a variety of literature is undertaken throughout the year including novels, film studies and a Shakespearean play. Analysing, organising, producing text and using language are taught through the development of the critical and analytical essay and writing skills are developed through both formal and creative writing experiences. The themes of fairness, conflict and awareness is emphasised during the year, helping develop a broader understanding of social and world issues. The essay writing process is consolidated in Grade 8 with a view to writing the extended essay in high school.

Current Readings: Lord of the Flies by William Golding; Heroes by Robert Cormier; Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare; Selected Literature Circles and Poetry

German Language and Literature

German Language and Literature is designed to support and develop language of our students with German as a first language . Whilst some students of German Language and Literature are non-native German speakers, their mastery of the language is very close to that of a native speaker of their age. As the name suggests, the focus of the subject is on a wide variety of literary texts as well as on language.

Novels, plays, poetry, short stories and non-fiction texts are all included as part of the literature component, whilst report writing, advertising, debating, presenting and public speaking, as well as vocabulary building and grammar work are some of the elements that make up the language component. The scheme of work and learning activities take into account that whilst students may have German as their first language and speak German at home, they do not study the rest of their subjects in this language. As such, one of the key aims of the course is to keep the students’ understanding and production of German as close as possible to their peers in German, Swiss and Austrian schools.

Students of German Language and Literature are strongly encouraged to do all they can outside the classroom to develop their power of expression. Regular reading plays a particularly key role in this. Assessment is based on MYP Language and Literature criteria.


Wherever there is number, there is beauty.
Proclus Diadochus

The Middle School Mathematics Programme is designed to develop a working knowledge of the language of mathematics and its relevance in the real world.

The course provides a solid knowledge of the content strands of mathematics; number, algebra, geometry, measurement and data handling, with ample training in basic skills, applications and problem solving. Development of both concept and computation is stressed. With major focus on the “big picture” and the connections between the various components, students are encouraged to be independent thinkers and fluent problem solvers.

The structure of the programme allows flexibility when catering for individual needs and supports each child in making optimum progress. We strive to develop confidence and a love of the subject in all our learners.

Several of our units of study cross subject boundaries, combining the skills of multiple disciplines, thereby providing students with experiences of authentic real-world applications.

Each year, our students spend time at ISZL’S Chalet Bergheim in Wengen, engaging in holistic education programmes, rooted in mathematics and science activities.

Assessment of student learning is based on four MYP criteria:

  • Criterion A – Knowing and understanding
  • Criterion B – Investigating patterns
  • Criterion C – Communicating
  • Criterion D – Applying mathematics in real-life contexts

Grade 6 Mathematics

Course skills include:

  • Place value and calculation
  • Patterns and sequences
  • Fractions, decimals, percentages
  • Expressions and equations
  • Measurement and unit conversions
  • Properties of polygons
  • Perimeter, area and capacity
  • Data Collection, statistics and probability

Grade 7 Mathematics

Course skills include:

  • Integers, powers and roots
  • General term and equations of straight-line graphs
  • Solving linear equations
  • Fractions, decimals, percentages
  • Circles
  • Properties of polygons
  • Transformations by rotation and reflection
  • Analysis of categorical data

Grade 8 Mathematics

Course skills include:

  • Numerical/Algebraic fractions, percentages
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Quantitative statistics
  • Number sequences and functions
  • Simultaneous equations by graph/algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Scientific notation
  • Algebraic expressions and equations


The study of science aims to provide the student with a body of knowledge and an understanding of the scientific approach to investigation. Our goal is for students to learn to formulate hypotheses, design and carry out experiments, to test these hypotheses and to evaluate the results. Courses are taught in units covering topics in environmental science, biology, chemistry and physics. Cooperative learning, as well as individual development are essential in science and are fostered through lab activities and other projects. The use of technology is an integral part of this discipline and students are introduced to data logging, simulation programmes and a variety of other types of presentation software.

Grade 6 Sciences

The course is designed to lay a solid foundation for middle school science and for using the scientific method. The aim is to promote the development of critical thinking, evaluative skills and an understanding of the development of scientific theories. Experiments, research and oral presentations are integral parts of the programme. Students begin to use a rigorous method for writing lab reports and developing ideas.

Topics include: Safety and Measurement, Density, States of Matter, Climate Change, Habitats and Crime Scene Investigation.

Grade 7 Sciences

Students build upon their Grade 6 science experience through an in-depth study of a range of topics. This is a critical phase of intellectual development therefore students are encouraged to participate actively by partaking in field trips and hands-on discovery learning activities. Students perform many experiments and are expected to write lab reports, which incorporate computer drawing and graphing techniques. Research projects and proper communication skills are further developed.

Topics include: Atoms and the Periodic Table, Acids and Bases, Food and Digestion, Microbes and Disease, Magnetism and Electricity.

Grade 8 Sciences

The science programme in Grade 8 fulfils the requirements of the IB MYP curriculum model and prepares students for the upper school experience. The overall basis for the year is to further develop scientific, investigative and practical skills that will enable students to tackle novel problems in science. Wherever relevant, these problems will be based on real life situations. Students will become both selective and critical when dealing with scientific data and be able to decide the most appropriate type of data/statistical analysis to be applied. It is an overall goal to develop the various skills that are needed to be successful in any upper school science programme and for students to be aware of the role of science in our modern world.

Topics include: Classification, Circulatory and Respiratory Systems, Fitness and Health, Light and the Eye, Sound and the Ear and Chemical Reactions.

The main forms of assessment used in science:

  • Criterion A (knowing and understanding): Tests and exams on completion of a unit of work
  • Criterion B (inquiring and designing): Planning experiments and performing them in the laboratory.
  • Criterion C (processing and evaluating): Evaluating and presenting the data collected from experiments.
  • Criterion D (reflection on the impacts of science): Research projects and presentations.

Individuals and Societies

Through conceptual learning and a main focus on history and geography, the Individuals and Societies course at ISZL aims to develop students that are IB learners.

The course additionally contains various aspects of MYP Individuals and Societies disciplines, traditionally studied under the term “Humanities” and “Social Sciences”, (such as economics, psychology, business management, sociology and political science). The course encourages individual and group inquiry into concepts and uses investigation as a tool for students to explore, discover and interpret why society developed as it has and helps them understand the complexity of our current fast changing world. It is a bridge to other disciplines because the environment in which we live has helped form writers, artists, scientists, politicians and people like us.

The course aims to develop students’:

  • Communication and analytical skills using a range of media.
  • Appreciation of their own and other people’s culture and traditions
  • Understanding of environmental change and our impact on the planet.
  • Insight into how local changes may affect human lives globally.
  • Empathy as well as the ability to consider a range of points of view and detect bias.
  • Sense of curiosity, imagination and love for the subject.

Grade 6

Grade 6 students are taught to analyse evidence for usefulness, accuracy and bias. The concepts of “time”, “cause and consequence”, “continuity and change”, “similarity and difference” and, as understanding moves from literal understanding to abstract comprehension, the concept of empathy is introduced. Students are introduced to fundamental geographical concepts such as location, movement, physical and human characteristics and environment.

Grade 7

Grade 7 students gain insight into how technological change and development in society has, and continues to shape our world. From the Industrial Revolution in the UK, to modern day developing economies, such as Kenya, students present their ideas on how industrial patterns of production in countries change society and the impact this has on lifestyles around the world. Through source analysis, students begin to identify and analyse bias, learn to understand how cultural misinterpretation can lead to prejudice and ultimate domination of one over another. Integrated markets and cultures demand the sensitivity and mutual respect that comes with understanding of different belief systems. Through investigation and presentation, students finding common ground and work together to illustrate the commonality of belief systems.

Grade 8

Grade 8 focuses on history and geography but also explores aspects of politics and economics. All topics are focused in the 20th Century. Students are encouraged to form opinions, ask questions and research through a variety of topics. They are taught and have the chance to practice their ability to investigate, analyse and interpret a range of sources. Students also have the chance to develop their skills for exploring information, identifying appropriate sources, justifying their position and reflecting on what they have learned in a variety of media.

Language B: Language Acquisition

The ability to communicate effectively with speakers from a range of language backgrounds is an essential skill in today’s world, fostering greater cultural awareness and understanding.

All students in Middle School (unless part of the Learning Support group) are required to take nine courses. Unless they require EAL (English as an Additional Language) students are encouraged to study German as the host country language, and additionally to make a choice between French or Spanish. Exceptions to this will be addressed on a case- by-case basis.

Learning language, learning about language and learning through language encourages understanding and appreciation of other languages and cultures. The ability to empathise with others through an increased intercultural awareness is at the core of communication skills in the modern globalised world. The increased potential for career mobility and an ability to integrate and collaborate with others are essential life long skills that can be enhanced through the learning of additional languages. The expansion of language abilities helps to develop a stronger sense of the learner’s own identity and self-confidence and to develop a sense of open-mindedness, whilst bringing their first language into sharper focus.

German, French and Spanish are offered in the Middle School

The programme focuses on learning a language in/for meaningful contexts and is driven by student inquiry processes whenever possible. Within the context of a rigorous development of grammar, syntax and spelling, a variety of active methods are used, such as conversations, story reading and writing, poetry, role-play, interviews, music and songs, games, art, project oriented data collection, etc. The classroom environment reflects these activities and promotes them through the use of a wide range of visual aids, text- based materials, listening/reading centres, etc. Students are encouraged to become responsible, independent learners who are also able to work cooperatively with others.

Student Placement: At the beginning of the school year, students are placed in an appropriate group according to their ability: Foundation (Phases 1-2), Intermediate (Phases 3-4), Advanced (Phases 5-) and Language A (German).

Foundation: is designed for students with little or no knowledge of the language. The course develops the students’ ability in the four basic skills of language learning: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The main focus of a Foundation class is based on the acquisition of a basic language vocabulary as well as simple grammatical structures. At the end of the course the students are expected to be able to communicate about themselves and their world with confidence.

Intermediate: is taught predominantly in the target language and students are expected to use the language of communication within the classroom. The students build upon and extend their knowledge of grammar. The emphasis is placed on the strengthening of students’ understanding of authentic materials and resources.

Advanced: is designed to encourage mastery of the target language. In this course, students engage in topics through a variety of complex texts. The students secure their knowledge of the language and of its culture using a wide range of authentic resources, including the development of summaries, discussions, presentations and practices in the organisation of writing structures.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

The English as an Additional Language (EAL) department supports students whose first language is not English to acquire the level of linguistic competence necessary to succeed in the mainstream classroom. EAL classes take place during the language B lessons. The EAL students work with their mainstream classes in all other subjects.

New students who may need EAL support are tested when first joining the school. Students can exit the programme when their work reaches the required standard of fluency and accuracy to succeed in the mainstream classroom.

Assessment of EAL is according to modified MYP Language B criteria.

Physical and Health Education

The Physical and Health Education programme encourages the students to appreciate the value of being actively involved in different activities. Students are encouraged to develop knowledge, skills and a positive approach towards leading a balanced and healthy life.

Emphasis is upon engaging students in activities to develop an awareness of their physical development and health perspectives, giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions and learn to appreciate and respect the opinions of others whilst developing positive interpersonal skills.

The programme involves a range of activities from team games, movement composition in gymnastics and dance, net games, track and field, and striking and fielding games.

Through these units:

  • Students are developing their knowledge and understanding about health and physical activity.
  • Students are inquiring, analysing, evaluating and creating plans to improve physical performance.
  • Students are developing and applying practical skills, techniques, strategies and movement concepts.
  • Students are enhancing their personal and social development, setting goals, taking responsible action and reflecting on both their and others’ performances.

New students who may need EAL support are tested when first joining the school. Students can exit the programme when their work reaches the required standard of fluency and accuracy to succeed in the mainstream classroom.

Assessment of EAL is according to modified MYP Language B criteria.

The Arts

The Arts make a contribution to education that reaches beyond their intrinsic value. Because each arts discipline appeals to different senses and expresses itself through different media, each adds to a special richness of the learning environment. An education in the arts helps students learn to identify, appreciate and participate in the traditional art forms of their own communities. As students imagine, create and reflect they are developing both the verbal and the non-verbal abilities necessary for school progress. Students of the arts learn to respect others’ (often very different) ways of thinking, working, and expression, and to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a variety of modes, giving them a vastly more powerful repertoire of self-expression. All students receive:

Visual Arts

The Middle School Art Programme establishes a balance between skills based art sessions across a diverse range of media and sessions focused on creative development.


The Middle School Music Programme is essentially practical and creative. Through the study of the concepts of pitch, rhythm, harmony, composition, form and history, students gain a wide experience in the subject.


The students learn to develop an awareness of theatre as an art form, to work cooperatively as a member of an ensemble and to develop a sense of confidence in themselves and in the work they produce.

Instrument Lessons

All students receive an instrument lesson in small groups from a qualified instrument teacher. Our school presents a large number of students for examinations by the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). The school has a very active wind band and strings orchestra. The groups rehearse weekly and have weekend retreats at Chalet Bergheim.


All Grade 8 students appear on stage as part of the Middle School Spring Musical production. Rehearsals are built into the school day in the weeks leading up to the performances for the school and community


The ISZL Zug Campus Choir is a well-established choir that rehearses once a week. To become a member, there is a short informal audition with the choir director. The choir has performed in many prestigious venues in Switzerland and has sung with the Zürich Symphony Orchestra on several occasions.

Learn more about our Arts Programme


Students experience the three branches of Design (information, materials, systems) in Design Technology by working with a variety of techniques and materials. All work in Design follows the Design Cycle and is assessed using International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme criteria, so whether a student is doing a database on computer, or making a useful product, the learning process and assessment procedures are exactly the same.

Students have access to both our computer lab and class sets of laptop computers. The school’s state-of-the-art network enables students to have fast access to their files and all Middle School classrooms have interactive white boards. Appropriate IT skills are taught and used within the class subjects. Students are expected to use their technology skills in the generation and presentation of class work and projects.

  • Information: Desktop publishing, webpages, multimedia packages etc.
  • Materials: Identifying, combining and experimenting with shape and handling different types of materials, and safely disposing of or recycling waste products
  • Systems: Recognising the parts of a system (input, processing and control, and output) as well as the crucial role each component plays as part of the whole

Grade 8 Challenge

The Grade 8 Challenge is an individual project completed in Grade 8 and aims to teach students to manage a project and to reflect upon the process of “Inquiry and Action” using the International Baccalaureate Design Cycle. It will be assessed on two main components: a process journal and the product itself. By exploring their own area of interest, students create a final product that will take one of three general forms:

  • Writing a research paper such as into your family history
  • Making a physical or multimedia product such as a skateboard, a dress, a film or a computer programme
  • Organising an event such as a school disco, charity football tournament or expedition


During the school year, a teacher may design a day trip that relates to the class. These may be to museums, art galleries, theatres, energy power plants, and geographic sites. Such trips are an integral part of the subject curriculum and generally covered by school fees, except for meals. All students are expected to attend as part of the required academic programme.

Course Selection for High School

All students in Grades 9 and 10 (unless part of the Learning Support group) are required to take nine courses. The majority of courses for MYP students are a pre-scheduled continuation of current courses.

Students in Grades 9 and 10 also choose one of the art courses (Visual Art, Drama or Music), which they follow for two years.

Any exceptions to this will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Home Learning

Educational research has shown that completion of home learning can influence student learning in a positive manner (please see the Home Learning Guidance booklet). This can be achieved when home learning is meaningful and relevant, differentiated as needed, when feedback is provided in a timely manner and when students can make connections to life experiences.

We believe home learning is an integral part of Middle School life. However, we are also interested in the development of well-balanced children. Therefore, rest and relaxation, activities such as sports, music, and hobbies, in addition to meaningful time with family and friends are important.

We acknowledge that home learning can become a major cause of stress and tension in households. To avoid this kind of situation, we suggest that parents provide adequate supplies and a quiet, consistent place for students to work. Parents may offer some assistance, but should encourage independence in learning.

In the Middle School, home learning is meant to take on average 5–6 hours per week. During exam periods and/or major projects, the amount of given home learning is lessened in order to allow students time to study or work on completion of projects.

Home learning can be differentiated to the needs of the individual student so if parents feel that their child has too much or too little home learning they should contact the subject teacher or homeroom teacher. Please refer to the Home Learning Guidelines Booklet, which your child will receive in school.

Home Learning Diary

All students are provided with a home learning diary. The students are required to use this school diary. Students occasionally ask if they may use electronic organisers (such as iPhone), however we feel that Middle School students need to use a written diary effectively. The purpose of the diary includes:

  • A record of due dates of assignments
  • A place for students to mark the times at which they plan to do their home learning. (Write in which nights/days the student will do the work – particularly assignments which may take several nights to complete)
  • Many students enter the times of activities, such as clubs and team training sessions
  • It can be a useful tool of communication between parents and teachers on home learning matters. The student needs to take responsibility to show the parent’s message to the teacher. This is increasingly replaced by the Schoology environment and e-mail.
  • Parents may occasionally be asked to sign beside a teacher comment or parents can communicate short messages to the teacher

Home learning organisation is regularly addressed in class, but discussion at home is both necessary and welcome. We understand that family commitments may make it difficult to complete an assignment or that students sometimes work many hours beyond the expectations of the teacher. A note in the Home Learning Diary (or a Schoology message or e-mail) may be the best way to inform the subject or homeroom teacher.